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Premier League Preview: Manchester United v. Brighton

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  • Man United has kept 4 straight clean sheets v. Brighton at home
  • Brighton has won last two matches v. Man United
  • Man United has kept 2 straight clean sheets for first time this season

Manchester United is hoping to take advantage of a Chelsea or Arsenal slip as the Red Devils host Brighton at Old Trafford, Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ET live on CNBC or live online at NBCSports.com.

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The Red Devils sit level with Arsenal on 41 points, six behind fourth-placed Chelsea. With the other two clubs meeting up, it’s the perfect opportunity to pick up ground on whoever drops points.

Alexis Sanchez may be fit to take the field for Manchester United, after a calf problem kept him out of the 1-0 victory over Tottenham last time out. Sanchez has made just one substitute Premier League appearance since the start of December thanks to a number of injuries and poor form, and he has made just a single league start since the start of October.

In addition to Sanchez, Eric Bailly is also available after his red card against Bournemouth in late December. However, Marouane Fellaini, Chris Smalling, and Marcos Rojo are all injured.

Brighton will look to prevent Ole Gunnar Solskjaer from becoming the first Manchester United manager to win each of his first Premier League matches in charge. They will be without Bernardo and Jose Izquierdo due to injuries, while Yves Bissouma is a game-time decision. The Seagulls have won the last two against Manchester United – both by one-goal margins – but those wins came at home, as the club has never defeated Manchester United at Old Trafford.

What they’re saying

Brighton manager Chris Hughton on Solskjaer: “I think the results speak for themselves. They have been able to win games and look like scoring and playing really well. Any manager coming in after Mourinho, I don’t think they could have expected any more from anybody that would have come in. The results and the performances indicate that.

Solskjaer on Alexis Sanchez fitness: “He loves to play football. He’s been hindered by injury – I know all about injuries and how frustrating that can be and how eager you are to get back. In the Reading game, maybe he should have told me at half-time, ‘I need to come off now’. The 15 or 20 minutes he played in the second half, maybe that was a bit too much for him and that gave him a setback. He’s chomping at the bit, he’s working hard in training. His attitude in training has been fantastic and he wants to play. I’m looking forward to seeing him and I’ve got loads of good players to choose from.”

Video preview

Prediction

Manchester United’s scorching-hot form will dip at some point, that much is inevitable. Until that happens, it’s near impossible to pick against them. That said, Brighton is poised as any to shock Solskjaer’s squad, and they could have the tools to set the Red Devils back.

Nevertheless, despite Brighton’s solid form of late, playing at Old Trafford will prove just too much, and another 1-0 victory will see Manchester United through to gain ground on either Arsenal, Chelsea, or both.

Report: Man United plotting January move for Sancho

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Jadon Sancho has made it known that he intends to return to England and the Premier League in the not-so-distant future, and Manchester United appear to be weighing up a January move for the 19-year-old Borussia Dortmund star, according to a report from the Guardian.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

With Sancho struggling early in his second full season in the Dortmund first team, Man United chief executive Ed Woodward could see this as an opportunity to acquire an exciting, young English talent at a cut-rate price.

Just last month, Sancho was dropped and fined by Dortmund for returning late from England duty. Last weekend, he was subbed off after 34 minutes — without an injury — and harshly criticized by manager Lucien Favre after the game.

[ MORE: Sterling backs Gomez after boos were heard at Wembley ]

Woodward and United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are said to be interested in signing Sancho, who they see as a summer transfer target ahead of the 2020-21 season, in January to allow the player an additional six months to settle into his new surroundings before the massive weight of expectations are fully thrust upon him.

Sancho scored 13 goals in 43 appearances (all competitions) for Dortmund last season. The former Watford and Manchester City academy product has four goals in 16 games this season.

Man City’s attempt to block UEFA investigation denied in court

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MONTREUX, Switzerland (AP) Manchester City lost its attempt Friday to block an investigation into allegations it deceived UEFA while violating rules that monitor soccer club finances.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that City’s appeal against UEFA’s handling of the investigation was inadmissible. The two-time defending Premier League champions tried to stop UEFA’s club finance panel from handling a referral by investigators to impose a punishment.

“At CAS we can only hear appeals against final decisions,” said Matthieu Reeb, the court’s secretary general.

UEFA investigators had called for a severe penalty — that City be excluded from the Champions League for one season.

The file will now proceed to UEFA’s club finance judges. Any sanction they impose can also be challenged at CAS.

The latest UEFA investigation started after leaks of City’s internal correspondence and documents to German news outlet Der Spiegel last year.

The leaks implied City deceived UEFA for several years, including by hiding information that revenue from potentially overvalued commercial deals came from the club’s owners in Abu Dhabi to curb losses.

[ MORE: Report: LA Galaxy want Cavani to replace Zlatan ]

City has never disputed the authenticity of the documents.

“There was absolutely no examination of the merits,” Reeb said of the three-judge panel’s ruling. “We cannot say whether the decision of the alleged breach of financial fair play rules are real or not.”

Friday’s ruling extends a long-standing conflict between City and UEFA in the era of “Financial Fair Play” rules which began in 2009 after consultation with clubs. The project was intended to protect clubs from reckless overspending.

UEFA rules limit cash injections from wealthy owners, which critics say penalize emerging clubs with big ambitions. Commercial deals such as shirt sponsorships that are suspected of being inflated are also assessed for the fair market rate.

City was deducted $22 million of Champions League prize money by UEFA in 2014 in the first round of FFP judgments.

Report: Bruce hopes to bring Xhaka to Newcastle in January

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Steve Bruce has prioritized a loan move to bring Granit Xhaka to Newcastle United in January, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

Xhaka, now the former captain of Arsenal after his recent confrontation with the club’s fans, is expected to leave Arsenal in January and Bruce hopes that Fabian Schar, a longtime teammate of Xhaka with the Swiss international team, will be able to persuade the 27-year-old midfielder to choose the Magpies over what will surely be a long list of clubs desperate to acquire his services.

According to the report, a number of clubs in Italy have already expressed an interest in signing Xhaka — whether or loan or permanently — therefore Bruce and Co., are likely to face plenty of competition. However, the chance to remain in the Premier League and prove his detractors — many of them Arsenal fans — wrong could be appealing to Xhaka.

[ MORE: Report: LA Galaxy want Cavani to replace Zlatan ]

Xhaka, who is not currently injured, hasn’t made an appearance for Arsenal since the incident occurred late last month. Schar recently said that he “can’t wait to give [Xhaka] a hug” next time the two players see each other.

VIDEO: Each PL team’s best and worst player of October

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PST’s Joe Prince-Wright looks at the best (and worst) player of October for each Premier League team as the league enters its final international break of 2019.

[ MORE: Berhalter: No “like-for-like” replacement for Pulisic ]

With Liverpool and Leicester City flying high, picking the Reds’ or Foxes’ best player presented plenty of worthy candidates. As for terribly underperforming sides like Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Southampton, it was a challenge for the opposite reason, though JPW wasn’t short on options when it came to worst performers.

Hit Play on the above video to see who graded out well — and not so well — for your club, and feel free to agree or disagree all you want in the comments below.